SALISBURY, N.C. – Amy Mahle, program chair of the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College occupational therapy assistant program, has been awarded the 2019 Suzanne C. Scullin Award by the North Carolina Occupational Therapy Association (NCOTA). This is the highest award presented by the association and recognizes an individual who has made a wide range of contributions to the practice of occupational therapy and to NCOTA.
Mahle, who has led the Rowan-Cabarrus program since it began in 2015, is the first occupational therapy assistant to receive the award. During her career, she has won numerous awards and honors, including the Terry Brittell OTA/OT Partnership Award from the American Occupational Therapy Association and the AOTA Roster of Honor award. A leader in the field, she serves on state and national committees, writes industry articles, produces webinars, participates in podcasts and presents at professional conferences across the United States.
“Amy brings passion and professionalism to everything she does, and we are delighted that her contributions to the field of occupational therapy are recognized statewide as well,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “Our faculty includes accomplished leaders in many fields of study, and Amy is a shining example of this as she brings her knowledge, experience and passion to her students every day.”
When Mahle was in her 30s, she chose occupational therapy assistant as her third career when she was looking for a change. After earning her associate degree, she worked in outpatient and acute care settings before deciding to pursue her ultimate goal of teaching in the field.
Mahle began teaching part-time at the Cabarrus College of Health Sciences and later transitioned to full-time employment. She earned a master’s degree in healthcare administration with the goal of becoming a program chair.
She landed the program chair role for the new Rowan-Cabarrus OTA program, thrilled with what she saw as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a program from the beginning.”
“I knew Rowan-Cabarrus Community College was the right place for me because of the individuals I met during the interview and their vision. Four years later, I believe in the College even more wholeheartedly, because of the community of individuals who seek to provide excellent and affordable education to our students.”
“The Scullin,” as the award is known within the North Carolina OT community, is not necessarily given annually, but is awarded when an outstanding and deserving practitioner is identified.
“Winning the award was completely unexpected,” said Mahle, who accepted the award at the annual NCOTA state conference in Raleigh. “I am both honored and humbled to be counted among the incredibly distinguished and highly skilled individuals who have received this award before me.”
“Two things resonate most strongly with me about receiving this award: First, I am keenly aware that, in all of my day-to-day interactions and activities, I am setting an example and opening pathways for my OTA students. I want my students to be confident that their passion for the profession is valuable and crucial. Secondly, the professional traits to which I aspire align with those of the OT for whom the award was created, and my colleagues and the awards committee recognized those same traits in me. I appreciate the affirmation that I am hitting the mark.”
The occupational therapy assistant program at Rowan-Cabarrus enrolled its first cohort in the fall of 2017 and accepts 20 students each fall through a competitive admissions process. Graduates are prepared for careers assisting people of all ages in achieving independence in their daily activities by helping them overcome physical, psychosocial, and environmental barriers.
The job outlook for occupational therapy assistants is strong. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 31 percent growth rate between 2018 and 2028, with a median salary of $57,620.
For more information about the occupational therapy assist program, please visit www.rccc.edu/ota.